I recently had the wonderful opportunity to interview author Adam Theberge as he gets ready to launch his newest release, The Demon. This is the third novel in his fantasy series, The Demon Plight Saga. In this interview he talks about his series and lets us have an inside look into his writing life.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m 39 and that’s not the worst of it. By the time this interview comes out I’ll be 40. Can you believe that? I guess age sometimes tells you a little bit about someone. I certainly don’t feel that old. You would also assume that by this point in life I must have gone through enough to contribute to my writing… and I have. I think that’s what helps all of us become better writers, focusing our experiences into our work.
I grew up just outside the City of Halifax, in Nova Scotia, Canada. I did all the things that kids out there do: climb trees, fall out of trees, hide behind trees... There are a lot of trees! Did I mention chopping wood? Yeah, that too!
When not playing outside, I was a voracious reader. Anything to do with magic or dragons. I think it was my fascination with fairytales that got me hooked. The idea of a mysterious world hidden just beyond my reach was something I always found intriguing.
And then I discovered Jane Yolen. She was my first foray into a dragon world. I became addicted. From there I moved into DragonLance, Xanth and Pern just to name a few. They, along with the X-men and Greek/Roman Mythology, sent my imagination into overdrive and inspired me to write.
Granted that was twenty years ago. In that period, I wrote blurbs here and there, worked several different jobs and went to university, but I never thought about becoming a full time author; not until recently.
Luckily I have a supportive husband who encouraged me to pursue a creative path and channel my crazy into my stories. Also, I have two awesome dogs. They keep me calm. Hopefully this wasn’t too much! I can ramble… how much space do we have?
I also forgot the part where I mention I’m a fantasy author!
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
My newest book is The Demon – Book 3 in The Demon Plight Saga. It was inspired by books 1 and 2… just kidding. When I wrote book 1 – The Well, I initially started by writing out all the things I knew about the universe in which the story takes place. I knew most of it would never be in the book, but I had to know the particulars anyway. Book 1 and Book 2 concentrated on just one side of the story. Book 3 was inspired by the side untold; from a different perspective.
How would you categorize your book?
It is fantasy for sure. Sword and Sorcery or Heroic to be specific.
Introduce us to your series main characters. What is it about these characters that appeal to you as a writer?
Book 1 – The Well, and Book 2 – The Cave both focus on Kalim. He is the solitary main character. He’s 19. His father died a year ago and since then he has been unmotivated, kind of lackluster. On top of that he has been having recurring dreams that are so real, yet otherworldly he isn’t sure what to make of them.
Kalim appeals to me because I know what it’s like to be depressed. How you can fall so deep into it that when an idea pops into your head that convinces you to try, you go for it. Even if that idea is preposterous. So he awakens from his doldrums to go out on this wild quest in search of answers to the riddle of why he’s having these dreams. A metaphor for how we are all in search of answers.
Book 3 – The Demon is about Dojé. She’s a bit nutty. A free spirit. She’s clumsy and easily distracted. She is also a good person… well she isn’t human, but I’ll say person for now. She is just fun to be around, that awkward sort of friend that makes you smile but you don’t quite understand them. I like her because she represents all the times you feel out of place and wish no one would notice.
How did the book come to be titled and how does it relate to the story?
I like simple titles. The Well was named because the dreams take place at the bottom of a well; that’s where the answers are. The Cave is named for similar reasons. A series of events, including a family dream journal and a demon chase, lead him into a strange cave. It’s here that things become even more peculiar and everything is thrown upside-down.
The Demon is a whole other matter. I can’t really tell you right now why I called it that. Not because I don’t know, but because it’s a bit deceiving. Who the demon is, isn’t quite clear.
Tell us more about the cover design. How involved were you with creating the cover?
|Book One of The Demon Plight Saga|
A graffiti artist named Orfin drew the pictures. I asked him to read the books and tell me what he envisioned for the art. He then drew them in black ink. I then had the awesome job of choosing back ground colors and fonts, inverting some of the art, and overall the rest of the formatting. It was a steep learning curve. In the future I hope that I can find someone to do that for me as it was very time consuming.
Tell us something about your book that isn't mentioned in the synopsis.
The main character in The Well and The Cave is gay. It’s never really mentioned and only ever alluded to briefly. Mostly because that part of his life isn’t a contributing factor to the success of his quest.
Give us a summary of your book in a tweet.
When Kalim realizes that his dreams could be visions of the past, not even a demon infested forest can keep him from discovering The Well.
How much of your experience is in your series?
I imagine a lot of it. I feel like telling you all the ways that my experiences show up in the books, but it is probably better to leave the reader guessing. The characters are really their own people. So I tried to give them their own experiences.
Describe your writing process.
The first thing I do is have an idea. That probably seems obvious. Normally though, I let the idea out onto a page. I just start writing and writing the scene I imagine until it is all out there. It’s a little backward I think to do it that way. Sometimes it makes it harder because you haven’t spent anytime developing the settings or establishing the roles of the characters. After I get my first thoughts out in a page or two, I work on building the world.
I write down everything from what sort of world it is, where the mountains are, how are the cultures are governed, who is good and who is bad, what are the dangers. Things like that. Then I ask myself. How did it all get this way? Where did the people come from? What are their buildings made out of and how do they live? It is a very lengthy process. There are so many questions to ask yourself about the land, the people and the history. Even if you aren’t going to use it in the story, at least you know it and you might be able to use it later on.
For this series I only decide on the personalities of the main characters. Then I write their story as though I am them and start following them through their day. I let them make their own decisions.
I always loosely have an idea of where I want them to start and where I want them to end up, but they aren’t necessarily going to end up where I want them to; and I’m not going to force them. So when they run into a new character, I just write a conversation between them and I make up the new persona as I go. This often leads to unexpected new ideas or paths for the character that I wasn’t thinking of, or intending. I am sure someone is probably reading this and thinking “You can’t do it that way”. Well I did! Sorry!
So once I have written the story to an open ended conclusion, I leave it for a couple weeks. Then I pick it back up, read through it, pat myself on the back for the good parts, smack myself on the forehead for the “what were you thinking” parts, and then start editing. Which is a whole other demon.
|Book Two of the Demon Plight Saga|
Describe your writing environment.
I have my own office in my house. It’s filled with nerdy gidgits and gadgets, comic books, posters, and figures. We built my desk in the corner of the room so I can see out the window into the backyard. It’s also tall enough that I can stand at it or work sitting on a tall desk chair. I have notepads everywhere for jotting down ideas, a whiteboard for the same, and art books to draw horrible maps and creatures. Everything I need is here. On nice days I might sit out on the deck and write on my tablet with a stylus.
What are your hobbies, interests outside of writing?
I used to love to read. I don’t so much now that I am writing because I find I can easily be influenced by the writing style of another author. It’s not an intentional thing, it just subconsciously happens. I prefer to avoid that.
I like working out. Not to have a gorgeous body. Mostly it’s because it feels great, and it helps me burn off the calories my sweet tooth makes me consume. I exercise 3-5 time per week depending on what is going on in my life at the time.
I’m also a gamer, although there isn’t a lot of time for that right now. I do enjoy Fallout, Tomb Raider, Dead Island type games, but I also like to rock my WiiU. The WiiU really is made to bring people together civilly.
I also love to cook. I experiment a lot with my cooking. That is how we were raised. You imagine what flavours might go well together and then you make it happen. Usually with great success, although there have been times where I may have misjudged.
I like yard work and gardening. Going for walks. Swimming. This is starting to feel like a dating profile. I’m already happily married.
What is the best advice and the harshest criticism received as an author? What have you learned from either?
Wow, what a loaded question. The best advice is to not give up. The harshest criticism? I am pretty open to criticism so if its constructive then I really look hard at what I was told and try to fix it if need be. Harsh criticism to me is the kind born out of negativity. That type isn’t meant to aid you or help you grow; it’s meant to tear you down. It took me some time to separate the two.
What advice might you give aspiring authors?
If someone doesn’t like something you wrote, then ask them what it is about your writing that bothered them. Sometimes it’s your writing style. Not everyone is going to like the way you write. That is fine because there are always others that will love it. The important thing is to write as yourself. Grammar, spelling and structure are something different from style. If that is bad, you need to fix it. Mine isn’t always great. I find I can’t see the mistakes in my own writing. I can see it in others’ writings but I have writer’s blindness when it comes to my work. That’s why I hire an editor.
What kinds of books did you read as a child? Did the genre you read most influence your decision to become an author of the kind of books you write today?
I mostly read Science Fiction, Science Fantasy and Fantasy novels. They sure did influence me. I liked to be transported to far away worlds with unique settings, but sometimes I also enjoyed having the real world meld with the fantastic. I did read lots of fiction as well, but I always felt fantasy transported me more, activated my imagination and really invigorated me. That's the kind of thing that I want to write. And Dragons! I've always loved Dragons! The world needs more dragons in it. So, again, yes! All those books influenced me to become the type of author I am today.
What specific authors and books influenced what you write today?
There are so many. Jane Yolen really got me started with her Dragon series. Then I would say the creativeness of Anne McCaffrey. She had so many series that I loved: The Dragonriders of Pern, Talent, Crystal Singer; all great. Piers Anthony with his puntastic world of Xanth. Then Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman with DragonLance. All of these people and series helped influence me as a fantasy author.
What types of books do you read now for pleasure?
I don’t read as much right now and when I do I shy away from fantasy. When I am done with this series my plan is to pick up the Xanth books I have never read.
What is next for you?
I have several other books I am working on. They are all full length novels. So I plan to work on those. I also have more to write for The Demon Plight Saga. I already know what the next two books are going to be about, so I will have to start writing those soon.
I recently had the opportunity to pitch ideas for some animated tv shows. I think that went really well, but it will be a while before I hear back on whether the studio wants to produce them. So you never know, writing for cartoons might be in my future.
You can find me at www.adamrtheberge.com
On Twitter @AdamRTheberge
On Facebook @AdamRThebergeAuthor